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Way-Too-Early 2011 SEC East Predictions

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Discuss. I'll grant that the first four are largely a crapshoot.

1. South Carolina Gamecocks

Dare we believe that Carolina might win the East twice in a row after it was seemingly so far from its grasp for so long? It very well might. The Gamecocks won the East rather convincingly in 2010, soundly beating the traditional Big Three. With none of those programs projecting to improve dramatically and Carolina returning a fair portion of its talent, most prognosticators will pick us to win again in 2011. Improvement in the secondary and on special teams would help our cause and could even turn this team into a national contender.

2. Tennessee Volunteers

An extremely young team in 2010, the Vols look to improve next year. They lose a few important players, particularly stand-out WR Denarius Moore, but the number of underclassmen who will grow into their roles should more than compensate for those losses. Don't forget that for all its problems, this team could have very easily gone 8-5 this year if not for the insanity in the LSU and UNC games. Look for for Tyler Bray and Da'Rick Rogers to become one of the conference's most notable QB-WR combos. I know Rogers's behavior has turned some fans off, but he's a phenomenal player.

3. Georgia Bulldogs

The Dawgs lose some talent at WR and on the defensive front, but look for them to improve both offensively and defensively with a more seasoned Aaron Murray and another year under Todd Grantham. They may also land potentially program-changing RB Isiah Crowell, who I would think would step in and replace the underperforming backs Georgia played last season. This team has been a major underachiever for the past two years and the law of averages would suggest they'll catch some breaks next year. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me at all if they suddenly morphed into a top-15 team, but I'll refrain from making that prediction for the time being considering what happened in 2010.

4. Florida Gators

The Gators will likely field another great defense under new head coach Will Muschamp, but offense may be another story. Charlie Weis will have the challenge of implementing a new system, and that will take time. By 2012, though, I look for the Gators to return to national prominence.

5. Kentucky Wildcats

The 'Cats will likely improve on defense in 2011, but whether that will be enough to offset the loss of Mike Hartline, Derrick Locke, Chris Matthews, and possibly Randall Cobb remains to be seen. I think Kentucky may have missed a good chance to have something of a breakthrough year with their underwhelming play in the second half of 2010. That said, they could still cause some trouble next year.

6. Vanderbilt Commodores

I have trouble imagining Vandy improving significantly in 2011, but we'll see.